Historic Neighborhoods in Charlotte, North Carolina
From the outside looking in, Charlotte looks like a flashy, modern city with a picturesque skyline full of towering skyscrapers — which can often make it hard to imagine that centuries ago the city was an essential part of a Native American trade route, and later home to the country’s first gold rush.
The shiny new facade can also make it hard to imagine that the Queen City was a major giant in the textile industry in the 19th century, long before it ever became one of the leading financial hubs in the U.S.
However, there are still some areas in Charlotte where you’ll find remnants of the city’s rich history underneath all the new development. Here are three notable historic neighborhoods in Charlotte.
Developed in 1890, Dilworth was not only Charlotte’s first suburb, but it was also home to the city’s first electric streetcar system. During Charlotte’s textile boom in the 1800s, there was a considerable need for more convenient housing to keep up with the city’s sizable population increase.
Edward Dilworth Latta, a salesman who had moved to Charlotte from New York, saw the eminent need for housing and capitalized on it by creating an affordable neighborhood for industrial workers.
Within a year of Dilworth being built, the city’s first streetcar system was added to connect the up-and-coming neighborhood to the downtown area, making it easier for residents to get around. In addition to the streetcar system, a 90-acre amusement park was created to help make the community even more appealing to potential residents.
Originally the park, which became known as Latta Park, featured a theater, pavilion, walking trails, bicycle race track, athletic fields, a pool, lake, and lily pond. Although the park has been scaled down tremendously throughout the years, it is still a local staple for Charlotte residents.
In recognition of the neighborhood’s vital role in Charlotte’s early growth, Charlotte Historic District Commission designated Dilworth as one of the city’s historic districts in 1983. Four years later, the neighborhood was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The Historic Dilworth District spans almost 400 acres, and even today, late 19th and early 20th century architecture can still be found throughout the neighborhood. Homes in the area vary between quaint bungalows, Victorian cottages, Colonial Revival, and and Tudor Revivals.
Made up of four different wards, Uptown is one of the largest financial hubs in the country. Its streets are lined with skyscrapers housing Fortune 500 companies and banking giants, luxury hotels, renowned restaurants, and sophisticated boutiques. But in the late 1700s when the town was first chartered, it was far from the metropolis it is today.
Long before Uptown Charlotte became a vibrant, urban business district, the region played an essential role in the city’s earliest days as part of the Nations Path—a trading path used by local Native American tribes to travel between Georgia and Virginia. A century later it played another vital role during the textile boom when farmers made their way to the same area to bring cotton to Charlotte’s mills when the city was at the height of its reign as a textile giant in the late 1800s.
While Uptown has seen many changes and revitalization projects over the decades, signs of its historic past can still be found intertwined throughout its streets. The city’s first cotton mill, The Charlotte Cotton Mills, built in 1881 can still be found Uptown as well as other notable historic landmarks, including the Fire Station Number 4, St. Peter’s Hospital, and Settlers Cemetery.
Also as a nod to the past, several street’s bear the names of prominent historical figures, including Tryon Street, one of the major roads that runs directly through the city’s center, which is named after the North Carolina’s Colonial governor, William Tryon.
Before the city played a key role in the country’s textile boom, Charlotte was a prominent player in the country’s first gold rush. What would later become known as the Wilmore Local Historic District was one of the state’s largest gold mines, the Rudisill Gold Mine. (Some historians even argue it was the largest gold mine in the state). After gold was discovered in the area in 1826, Rudisill became Charlotte’s most lucrative gold mine with an expansive operation.
At its peak in the 1830s, Rudisill was said to have employed more than a thousand workers, which helped increase the area’s population and housing prices. Mining operations continued on and off at the location for more than a century, and the area was later developed into a streetcar suburb similar to nearby Dilworth.
The neighborhood is part of the short list of historic districts in Charlotte designated by the Charlotte Historic District Commission, but it’s hard to find any evidence of its profitable mining days among the newly constructed apartments and commercial buildings. However, the neighborhood is still filled with Craftsman bungalows that are remnants of its past, which juxtapose with the view of Charlotte’s skyline.